Links 12/9/2022

Gut Bacteria Might Shape Social Behavior Smithsonian

These bumblebees like playing and it’s the sweetest thing ZME Science (KS).

Part Bear, Part Bird, Part Monkey, Part Lizard: On the Deep Weirdness of Beavers Literary Hub. On beavers as ecosystem engineers, see NC here and here.

Innovative multi-material tool use in the pant-hoot display of a chimpanzee Nature

Dollar debt in FX swaps and forwards: huge, missing and growing (PDF) Bank of International Settlements Quarterly Review

Chinese yuan playing ‘complementary’ role in interbank settlement, but CIPS won’t rival Swift, says global central bank boss South China Morning Post

What’s Going On With the Housing Market? WSJ


Pink snow is a red flag for the West’s water High Country News

Could trawler cams help save world’s dwindling fish stocks? AP

How Protests and Crackdowns Can Exacerbate Climate Change Foreign Policy


Oil spill in rural Kansas creek shuts down Keystone pipeline AP

Pandemic austerity plans that benefit the few at the expense of the many must go South China Morning Post


More trouble (guurst):

* * *

Germicidal UV: a tradeoff between disinfection and indoor smog Jose-Luis Jimenez, Something in the Air. Commentary:

Toilets spew invisible aerosol plumes with every flush – here’s the proof, captured by high-powered lasers The Conversation

* * *

Fauci’s deposition, a thread:

Nietzsche’s Last Men and the Covid Event Panda Uncut


‘It’s dead out here’: China’s slow exit from zero-COVID Reuters. “Although the government on Wednesday loosened key parts of its strict ‘zero-COVID’ policy that has kept the pandemic largely at bay for the past three years, many people appear wary of being too quick to shake off the shackles.” But… but why? (I love “shackles.” Open propaganda.)

China’s disappearing data stokes fears of hidden Covid wave FT. “[T]he actual infection data will no longer be informative. As the ‘official’ infection figures decline, the government can eventually claim their success against the virus.” All China can do is copy the West /s.

Covid minimizers appear in China:

The 2024 Indonesian Presidential Election: Islam as a Decisive Factor? RSIS


Q&A: Sean Turnell on being framed as Suu Kyi’s ‘puppet master’ Frontier Myanmar

The Koreas

South Korea orders striking steel, petrochemical truckers to return to work Reuters

All South Koreans to become younger as traditional age system scrapped Guardian

Dear Old Blighty

UK’s first coal mine in decades ratified, London renegs on commitments Al Mayadeen

New Not-So-Cold War

What Ukraine’s Drone Strike Deep in Russian Territory Means Slate

Military sources: Ukraine missiles used US guidance Asia Times

Why the Global South Is Raising the Russian Flag The Realpolitik

Washington’s New Cold War: A Socialist Perspective (review) Monthly Review

Realignments Phenomenal World. The deck: “Bolsonarismo and Brazil’s shifting middle-class vote.”

El Salvador’s war on itself: The siege of Soyapango Al Jazeera

Biden Administration

Democrats Threaten Year-Long Stopgap Measure as Spending Talks Remain at a Standstill Government Executive

FTC to Block Microsoft-Activision Merger Matt Stoller, BIG

Biden releasing nearly $36 billion to aid pensions of union workers CNBC

Court seems unwilling to embrace broad version of “independent state legislature” theory SCOTUSblog

Our Famously Free Press

More “Twitter Files,” a thread:


When the FBI’s former general counsel is also a “former Twitter employee”:

The concept of “revolving door” seems to be too challenging for Collins, a senior reporter at NBC. I hate to think how he’d cope with a FlexNet.

* * *

Þe Washington Post Decides Þt It No Longer Has to Fear þe Blogosphere. Do Hijinks Ensue? Brad DeLong. The Twitter Files threads show how inferior Twitter is to blogging as a creator of long-form pieces, something is was never designed to do, even leaving aside threading accidents. Think of each tweet as a parapraph, but (critically) with no ability to embed links in the text, no titles, no headings, no tables, no formatting…. It’s amazing that the masters of the Twitter form do as well as they do.

Washington Post Considers Selling Tech Business It Built Up on Jeff Bezos’s Watch WSJ

Supply Chain

West Asks Turkey To Help Clear Tanker Jam and Russia is Concerned Over Oil Tanker Jam in Bosphorus – RIA gCaptain

The Bezzle

Mystery of Terra collapse deepens with possible FTX role probed Bloomberg

SEC Tells US-Listed Companies They’d Better Disclose Crypto Damage CoinDesk

The need for nonbank regulation is a consensus issue for the Fed American Banker


EU court: Google must delete inaccurate search info if asked AP

US sides against Google in consequential social media case Bloomberg

* * *

ChatGPT, rot13, and Daniel Kahneman James Williams

Four Paths to the Revelation One Useful Thing (And Also Some Other Things). ChatGPT. “An AI will confidently tell you false information in ways that are utterly convincing.” As I’ve said: AI is the very definition of bullsh*t. Now at scale!

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Tech companies fueled the rise of Homeland Security and domestic surveillance, report finds The Verge

Class Warfare

Long Covid is distorting the labor market — and that’s bad for the U.S. economy CNBC

Structural Stigma In Law: Implications And Opportunities For Health And Health Equity Health Affairs

Progressive In Year 2180 Blasts Gender Discrimination In Conscription Practices Of Nabisco’s Corporate Military The Onion

Big cities drive half of global economic growth FT

Judas Goats: Agriculture’s Bizarre, Drug-Addicted Masters of Deceit Once Ruled the Killing Floor AgWeb. Great metaphor….

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. Pat

      Hmmm. So it looks like Krysten just made her move to be the new Susan Collins. Sure it isn’t quite the same, but I still expect her to be courted and in a position to shape bills whether or not she is going to vote for them in 3….2…

      The kabuki just got even less believable.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Manchin is a drama queen and voted for Trump to be impeached twice. There isnt a spot with the GOP where he can grandstand. He was always stuck. Sinema is dumb by DC standards. She thinks she will have a grand funeral like Saint McCain.

          1. albrt

            If Sinema runs and as independent in Arizona next year she will certainly throw the seat to the GOP. I’m OK with that if it gets rid of Sinema. I don’t think I’ve ever voted for a Republican for federal office (registered green and usually vote 3rd party) but I would vote for a Republican in a head to head race to get rid of her.

            1. GF

              “If Sinema runs and as independent in Arizona next year she will certainly throw the seat to the GOP.”

              Kari Lake redux.

          2. Not Again

            I’m sure that McConnell will turn down the chance to take Manchin (and the majority) to keep Trump’s feelings from being hurt. Trump is done and the GOP knows it.

            I guess Chuckie should have passed his amendment he wanted, huh?

            1. JBird4049

              >>>I guess Chuckie should have passed his amendment he wanted, huh?

              If you are referring to Chuck Schumer, what makes you think that he did not get the results he wanted? Remember, most of the Democratic Party’s actions, and this somewhat includes the Republican Party, are performative; they are done to create the illusion of caring and wanting to do good for the average American.

              The Democratic leadership of both houses could have rolled the railroad workers demands for more sick days into the settlement imposed on them, but Pelosi, Schumer, and Biden refused to do the demand most important to the workers. That is because the railroad owners said they would not accept it.

              Whatever legislation including amendments that the senior Democratic leadership wanted passed, they could probably do it, but they won’t if is something that the corporations and the wealthy do not want it; so, it is the American Kabuki Show.

            2. John k

              Others have predicted that. Not clear to me which rep could beat him.
              It’s amazing how big an army he still has after all his dumb moves.

          3. Carolinian

            Sinema is dumb by DC standards.

            That must be pretty dumb. While I occasionally visit AZ I know little about Sinema–have enough trouble keeping up with Lindsey. Lindsey isn’t dumb enough given his sinister goals. Naturally those allow him to fit right in.

      1. Art Vandalay

        King Joe –> Queen Krysten. Lambert’s notion of the rotating Joe Manchin come to life. Manchin probably tired of the spotlight. He can retreat to his yacht, corruption, and biosphere-destroying coal business, while we spend the next 2 years reading breathless coverage about what it will take to get Krysten to go along with Dem imperatives for which they will be “fighting.” Among other things, a challenging time to be parent of a 15-year-old who (1) you want to equip with keen understanding of how the world works, without (2) crushing his inherent optimism that his generation can make things better. Boomers and Gen X (where I am on the cusp between) surely need to move along from the public sphere, as we’ve collectively made a mess.

        1. Daryl

          Feels like Sinema is a bit late on this. Now that Repubs control the house, the senate can pass all kinds of good stuff with no worry of it ending up on Biden’s desk, where he might accidentally sign it. We might even see some Bipartisanism (TM) in the Senate for the next two years.

      2. none

        the new Susan Collins

        The new Joe Lieberman. Good riddance to Sinema. Good riddance to Manchin too, if he leaves.

      3. lyman alpha blob

        There’s always Angus King – Maine’s other senator is already an independent, having switched from Democrat some time ago. He might as well be a Republican despite caucusing with the Democrats, and if his personal trend continues along its career direction, perhaps he will be.

        Of course the entire Democrat party has basically become Reagan Republicans, so party affiliation doesn’t really mean squat anymore to begin with. Unless you happen to be a war mongering, corporate loving, hippy punching, elite bootlicker, there really isn’t any representation in Congress.

        1. Pat

          True enough, but Angus and Bernie have rarely been on the we need to make them happy pedestal that Dems use to water down or kill items they only want to pretend to be for. Now Bernie does occasionally get something good in a piece of legislation but the Dems and the press don’t talk about that, and it is even rarer now that they really don’t like him.

          Nope it was Joe and Krysten and this move just made all the BS about the importance of a 51 Senate pointless. And Krysten will now become the point with Joe secondary as made clear by Schumer’s keeping her committee assignments. They aren’t even pretending to downgrade her.

      4. Glen

        Ah, the Congress and Senate! The last true free market, Milton Friedman would be so proud!

        This would be a great time to offer a holiday corporate discount, maybe some advertising on CNBC? And throw a bone to the little people in Arizona? The possibilities….

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      So, with sinema’s explicit rejection of democrat affiliation, do dems still get to claim a “majority” in the senate? That claim has always seemed pretty shaky to me, relying as it does on two “independents,” one of whom was derided as “not even a democrat” by biden supporters when he ran for the presidential nomination in the dem primary.

      At any rate, the dems are not going to be able to count on kamala’s guaranteed “tie-breaker” vote anymore. That distinction now belongs to sinema as near as I can tell. They sure are lucky to have gotten warnock the other day. You’ve gotta wonder if someone didn’t have a heads up that this defection was coming.

      1. playon

        Yup the timing is perfect, Democrats can still have someone to blame when their bills don’t happen.

    3. ALM

      Sinema is treacherous. She started out as a progressive member of the Green Party and a supporter of the Ralph Nader campaign. Look at her now. A sommelier and full throated corporate Democrat and darling of the rotating villain corps turned Independent, whatever that means. Something’s up. Chuck “Wall Street” Schumer can really pick ’em.

      1. ThirtyOne

        Can’t seem to get this outta my head after 30 years.

        The Cat : Nice movie collection. “Revenge of the Mutant Splat Gore Monster.” “Die Screaming with Sharp Things in your Head.”

        Kryten : Gore movies. Weapons magazines. This place is a shrine to everything that’s low and base. Everything that’s designed to sicken the soul and shrivel the spirit. Urg. Toastie Toppers. Ugh. Cinema hot dogs. Ogh. Sweaty kebabs with stringy brown lettuce coming out. Ogh.

        The Cat : Look at this music. “Hammond Heaven.” “Karaoke Krazy.” “Peter Perfect Plays Tuneful Tunes for Elderly Ladies.” Let’s get outta here.

        1. RA

          Your post stimulated me to go, and just now, order the box set of Red Dwarf.

          Loved that series but haven’t thought about it in a long time.

          Hmm, gazpacho soup might be nice too.

      2. John

        Since Congress is ostensibly divided between the parties and the parties divided against themselves, nothing of substance is likely for the next two years except increases in the ‘defense’ budget. I suggest we utterly ignore their antics.

        1. JBird4049

          >>>I suggest we utterly ignore their antics.

          Yes, but the problem is that they will not ignore us if it serves their masters. Tax free Soylent Green anyone?

        2. agent ranger smith

          As Leon Trotsky once said: ” You might not be interested in Congress, but Congress is very interested in you.”

  1. griffen

    Just gotta love the satire of the Onion and the Bee. I was scanning the interwebs yesterday on the Bee site and they had a few recent hilarious anecdotes ( okay more than a few ). The bee had a funny take, on the latest exploits about a famed ex-royal couple who just seek to live life in privacy preparing to launch a new streaming series about how they have so little privacy.

    It is here, Friday at last.

    1. Nikkikat

      The ex Royals are indeed silly creatures. They simply can’t stay away from the cameras and the press and their look at me life style. It seems through out their tawdry complaints runs a thread of victimization. Revelations such as she could never wear bright colors or show any skin……how mean they were to poor me!

      1. The Rev Kev

        Good thing that the Queen refused to meet her the last time that they were in the UK or else, with the Queen now dead, Meghan would be putting all sorts of words into her mouth now that she cannot reply. The preview for their latest Netflix is being savaged as people are looking hard at it and found that it is being made up of all sorts of different videos. One that was suppose to show the press harassing them with their cameras but turned out to be from the premier of a Harry Potter film – five years before they even met.

      2. Lachlan

        They only have one thing to sell, so no matter how much they complain about privacy they’ll never really have it. Although I’m sure they have more than they did within the royal family of course. They should come out as republicans and take up normal jobs if they had any backbone…

    2. CanCyn

      I have no doubt that royal life isn’t for everyone but yeah, not feeling a lot of sympathy for Harry and Megan. It has always been interesting to me that some celebrities are plagued by the paparazzi and make the headlines regularly while others are only seen or heard from when flogging their latest project. Seems to me there are some choices being made to pursue fame or not.

      1. Pat

        If you are a celebrity that is considered “hot” and are in the midst of something that draws eyeballs such as a hot illicit romance or a scandal, the press will hunt you down and stake you out hoping for an exclusive. But just living your day to life for all but the rarest of celebrities most paps don’t care because pics or stories of X grocery shopping pays pennies. With very few exceptions if someone is in the tabloids constantly, figure they or their PR team has notified or hired paps. No there really isn’t that much interest in Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck’s shopping sprees but cheap easy items, as in the celebrity has paid some of the overhead, will be picked up and run.

        The privacy seeking West Coast royals have certainly set up more than a few photo opportunities.

      1. polar donkey

        My wife is obsessed with royals. On the other hand, I come from a family in which my mom would have sent money to the IRA if she could have. She hates the English. Her mother was from Ireland. My wife was watching Harry and Meghan. I couldn’t take it after 10 minutes. Harry is dumb as a post and Meghan may be the most superficial and narcissistic person walking the face of the planet. The royals, what a messed up group of people from a long line of messed up people.

  2. The Rev Kev

    “These bumblebees like playing and it’s the sweetest thing”

    Fascinating. Absolutely fascinating. It seems that having the neurons necessary to communicate with each other and to take part in social learning have also given them more higher levels of social conduct – such as the ability to play. Funny thing is that as a kid, I thought that we knew nearly everything about the natural world and how it worked going by all the books and documentaries but as a grown adult, I realize that we haven’t even scratched the surface yet.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        I thought of you when I ran across this in the Nietszche piece:

        The State is never secular, but always embedded in its own mythology.

        The State is not predicated upon rationality, but power.

        The State is never for, of, and by the people, but is inherently elitist.

        The rest of the essay reminded me of this from Lao Tzu:

        The great way is low and plain,
        but people like shortcuts over the mountains.

        Tao te Ching #53 (Le Guin rendition)

      2. Ed Miller

        The more you learn, the less you know. — a librarian from my past

        It’s what keeps me coming back to NC. Thanks Yves!

    1. MarkT

      I like to think that the more we learn, the more we learn how little we actually know, if we’re prepared to be honest with ourselves. This seems to happen quite a lot in astronomy and astrophysics, for example. Not so much in some other fields. I won’t mention names :)

      1. John Zelnicker

        MarkT – Think of our knowledge as a globe. The more we learn and expand the globe, the larger the surface area (representing what we don’t know) becomes.

        1. eg

          Precisely the same metaphor I use — it also suggests how at the “perimeter” fields of knowledge become ever more distant from one another and thus increasingly inscrutable to non-experts.

    2. Wukchumni

      Mineral King is a mecca for all sorts of things, its a geologists whet dream, a hikers paradise and more.

      I met a scientist in September who was doing research on bumblebees in MK and he was so animated about how this was the happy hunting ground for them, and he went into detail to such an extent that I can hardly remember much, but he related there were a couple of main species.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        Backpacked in Mineral King many years ago. Everything you say about it is true; the recurring comment during our trek was, “This just does not look real!”

    3. Judith

      I highly recommend the book The Mind of the Bee by Lars Chittka, which was mentioned in NC sometime recently. Fascinating and well-written and passionate about bees. Chittka explains the design of the experiments he and his colleagues have conducted over decades, explores the results, and always mentions the names of the researchers involved. And he never say anything about AI :-).

  3. zagonostra

    >Nietzsche’s Last Men and the Covid Event-Panda Uncut

    Excellent article and fits nicely with the Judas Goats one. Thanks for post.

    From the article:

    The power structures of liberal states depended on a credibility created by the valorizing of neutral, transcendent science. Science had eclipsed religion and superstition, and thus a political order of pragmatic science somehow overcame politics…

    It would be difficult to dispute that Nietzsche correctly foresaw the psychology of the future polity of the West. He did not need to envision a Covid Event in order to predict a tyranny arising to keep us ‘safe’, or that the desire for equality and safety would be weaponized by a new class of ‘free spirits’ who wanted anything but freedom.

    Interesting that Dostoevsky was/is being pulled from college courses due to Western Ukraine war propaganda when one looks at his influence on Nietzsche; the scene in Crime and Punishment where the horse is mercilessly beaten with Nietzsche’s own mental breakdown is strangely coincidental.

    1. bassmule

      One phrase sticks in my craw: “The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated…” Looking at the currrent crop of billionaires, I see no evidence of this.

      1. Wukchumni

        My favorite old school Illionaire was Edward Doheny-who it was generally agreed was a truly awful person (he’s the inspiration for the protagonist in There Will Be Blood) with no redeeming qualities, who would give our current day Illionaires a run for their money.

        There’s a quite imposing Catholic church on Figueroa near downtown LA that Doheny donated the money to build, and wags of the era called it ‘Doheny’s Fire Escape’.

        1. Adam Eran

          Let’s not omit John D. Rockefeller. He stole Fred Koch’s refining processes without paying patent royalties. Koch sued…and lost! Turns out Rockefeller bribed the judge. Koch re-sued once this had been unearthed and won…but was ever after convinced government is a bunch of crooks. He passed this message on to his boys, who have been bent on sabotaging government ever since.

          1. jefemt

            Fun to see how the Koch family scored thousands of Montana acres through straw-man Patent purchases post WW2.Once burned, twice the effort to master ‘the game’.

      2. outside observer

        And what about when the robber barons and omnipotent moral busybodies turn out to be one and the same…

    2. Carolinian

      Society should therefore be understood as being constituted of people driven by a Nietzschean will to power. This should immediately make us sceptical of any political order which portrays itself as neutral and motivated by democratic consideration for the rational interests of the citizenry. Once we understand this hard truth of modern psychology, once we achieve a clear-eyed view of our liberal democracies, we can determine a path against the decadence and nihilism of our corrupt elites.

      Like, duh. The error of course is that rationally understanding this fact will somehow render it harmless. Whereas in reality it must be countered from an early age which is what many religions try to do at least in theory. Which is to say secular rationality may not be the cure for irrational desires. It is a dilemma.

      1. hunkerdown

        I propose the opposite: teaching people to believe in delusions and pursue phantasms in the real world makes them more vulnerable to arbitrary command and perverse sacrifice. A just war doctrine can be invented for anything.

        1. Carolinian

          There was an Age of Reason in this country with claimed Deists making the new rules but even they weren’t very convincing in their pretended indifference to power. The political/power squabbles back then were vicious.

          And as for religion, when we did have an antiwar movement a few decades ago many of them were priests or ministers like MLK.

      2. Gulag

        Nice comment Carolinian. My question/issue is does our reasoning power (no matter what are political perspective) finally end up identifying with some power interest?

        Can this type of apparently universal will to power ever be overcome? Certainly religion appears to have largely failed at this task.

        1. JBird4049

          >>>Can this type of apparently universal will to power ever be overcome? Certainly religion appears to have largely failed at this task.

          Heck if I know of a way. Any system, no matter how good being man made or at least run, can be subverted. Too often people blame the failure of a religious, political, or economic system’s failure on the system’s inherent flaws instead of the inherent flaws of the people in the system.

          If it helps, it has taken at least fifty years to destroy the political, economic, and religious systems of both the United States and Europe and I could point to the preparations for doing so for decades before that. It is only with the deaths of most of the Silent and Greatest Generations with their parents that we have the “successful” efforts at destruction.

          I guess that only vigilance works and not always.

          1. Henry Moon Pie

            Yes, vigilance, but the size and complexity of the political and economic systems is a key element as well. In small groups, the “power people” get recognized for what they are that they can’t gain much of a foothold. In large and complex systems, it’s easier for them to hide until they’ve gained so much power that it’s too late.

  4. griffen

    SEC is asking for help from US listed companies on detailing exposure and the potential extent of damages from exposures to cryptocurrency and related exchanges. Companies will line up to immediately reveal how stupid and ignorant their decision making really is.

    In related news, SBF has a handy napkin where he doodles a few nonsensical amounts that amount to perhaps as much as ( $USD 8 to 9 Billion ) that has disappeared. Rumors are that an evil villain living high in the mountains was last seen with the loot. The Grinch is alive and well after all. \sarc

  5. timbers

    Military sources: Ukraine missiles used US guidance Asia Times

    As the Duran noted recently, Washington folks saying they altered software to shorten the range of Himars given to Ukraine far from being comforting, should in fact be a wake up call to Russia.

    IMO If Russia can identify a base and satellite involved in guiding strikes deep inside Russia – be it NATO, US, or otherwise – these are legitimate military targets for Russia, and failing to take them out or at least decision centers in Kiev and Lviv, she does so at her own peril. Allowing the West to target Russia directly is slowly being normalized. And if the Kremlin believes what they say – that this conflict could last a long time – they are going to have to think of a policy response beyond what they are currently doing to address this.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Alexander Mercouris in his latest video mentioned the possibility that this drone flew along civilian air corridors while using a civilian transponder to fool Russian defenses thinking that it was a civilian plane. The first part may be true because remember that the Ukrainians used the official grain corridor to get those naval drones all the way to the Naval base at Sevastopol. It would also explain why the Russians did not take action until those drones were almost upon them. Thing is, if anyone believes that the west had absolutely nothing to do with preparing those drones and helping them guide them to their target, well, I can get them a good price on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        This is how the Iraqis accidentally put a pair of big holes in the USS Stark in 1987. They used a business jet (Falcon 50) with a civilian transponder and rigged it with a pair of Exocets. It was intended to surprise the Iranians, but it surprised everyone else too – it was decades before the real story came out as to why the Stark could not detect the incoming aircraft and missiles. It doesn’t matter how sophisticated your radars are if your control system is programmed to screen out aircraft with civilian transponders.

        I’d disagree though about the Ukrainian capacity to carry out the attack. Ukraine had/has quite an advanced aerospace industry with lots of engineers with long experience of doing the best with little resources. There is nothing particularly sophisticated about turning a drone like the Tupolev into a bomb and an airfield is a pretty big and fixed target. There is evidence that they’d already converted a few of those drones into cruise missiles before the war started.

        IMO this was an entirely Ukrainian operation. They have a strong motive to pull the US into the war – if Brussels or Washington have decided to widen the war, they’d want to do it on their own terms, and not be dragged in by Ukraine in this manner. Of course, you can’t rule out that some agencies (the British in particular) might be playing a double game in order to stiffen the resolve of Washington as they might see it.

        1. Polar Socialist

          Even the selection of the target – Russian strategic/nuclear bomber bases – in my mind says Ukraine, because it seems to have been designed for escalation (by baiting Russia to do something more drastic than destroy a battalion of Ukrainians per day), and nobody else really is looking for escalation but Ukraine.

          Except maybe British, if they’re getting the feeling that US is a about to seek for an exit and leave the Albion to hold the burning end of the stick. But they wouldn’t go for something so risky and uncontrollable.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Yes, thats a good point. And it definitely did irk the Russians – they were careless insisting that they’d successfully intercepted the drone when as MoA pointed out, their own visual evidence pointed to an intact warhead striking the airfield.

      2. Stephen

        Seems a sensible explanation. It does all sound like a classic Ukraine / west one off propaganda victory for the news headlines. But the Russians will now presumably be expecting similar ruses in the future. So it will likely have no systematic effect.

        In 1942 the British flew a Beaufighter in broad daylight at treetop height to drop a Tricolour on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Great propaganda play too (and incredible bravery) but they chose not to keep doing it and stuck with nighttime area bombing.

        This feels a bit similar and I agree with comment above that the British would love to carry such a “jape” so very possible they helped Ukraine but also highly likely they just did it themselves.

    2. All Ice

      Striking or attempting (Russia says the missiles were downed by air defense and the damage was caused by the debris) to strike targets deep inside Russia is a serious escalation regardless of whether Russia responds immediately. For what appears on the surface to be nothing more than propaganda purposes US/NATO has just risked expanding the theater of war well beyond the territory of Ukraine.

      BUT perhaps the US still believes deep down that it can defeat Russia in a nonnuclear European theater war and that Russia would never dare launch any assault on US soil.

      1. begob

        Scott Ritter made the point that the attack on Engels was sufficient to trigger Russia’s nuclear response. He also reckoned that there needed to be laser-guidance of the drone to fix it on target at the final stage, provided locally by a deep cover team. I guess the same would have to apply to the other drone strike, which seems far fetched.

    3. David

      If you look at the wider political picture, then as I have suggested elsewhere, the high-level strategic objective for the Russians is to play NATO and the US out of the game in Europe. The best way to do this with the US would to effectively ignore them, and just get on with the war. (This doesn’t mean they can’t make propaganda from this kind of event, but that’s a different issue.) Attacking US assets would give the US too much sgnificance in the eyes of the rest of the world, and risk a dangerous escalation which Biden’s government would probably not be able to control. Better to let the US slink away, unless and until they start to become involved in initiatives that actually make some military difference.

      1. Lex

        Indeed. In the current context the best thing Russia can do is to ignore the provocations and intended escalations. It clearly angers the Russian plan and Russian supporters in the West but any escalation response by Russia needs to stay inside Ukraine for Russian patience to maintain its effectiveness as a weapon. I think it’s a potent weapon, partly because the US is a famously impatient country. The risk of course is that Kiev feels that it must escalate the scale of the provocations in hopes of getting the response (this may include planting stories about how the US or UK actually did the Engels strike).

        My biggest fear is that portions of the British government are working with Ukraine to escalate the provocations to draw the US in deeper or in a more active role. The Brits know well that they do not have the resources to confront Russia directly so it has to be a matter of pulling the US in.

        1. John k

          It’s not clear to me what us could do to win a land war in Europe. No troops/artillery… move 300k troops to Ukraine to join the Ukraine slaughter? Patriot defense? Bear in mind little power now, and less every week.
          Tactical nukes? That’s ww3. I’ve thought for some time all us can get is a tie. Us has ignored conventional for decades, short supply lines. Russia has hypersonic. More nukes than we have, And seemingly the best conventional capability on the planet.
          We have long supply lines. And will face much the same when we pivot away from another loss to taiwan. Seems us now has the score but gb hasn’t got the memo… or thinks it has agency. Ukraine did get it, but tore it up.

  6. The Rev Kev

    Bari Weiss seems to have grown up over the past few years showing by her work with the Twitter files. Thing is, every time I hear her name, I keep on being reminded about that time she absolutely humiliated herself on the Joe Rogan Show by calling Tulsi Gabbard an ‘Assad toady and when challenged, had no idea what the word ‘toady’ meant or why Gabbard was even called that- (4:56 mins)

    1. KLG

      Yes, she does. Maybe now she has to back up her work as a largely independent writer/commentator?

      I have not been willing to look yet, but have the usual suspects who inhabit the penumbra of the absent largely Rachel Maddow had their collective nervous breakdown over The Twitter Files?

    2. Aumua

      Yeah she’s grown up into being praised by the likes of Mark Levin. Heard earlier today on his radio show… Levin thanked Elon Musk for everything he is doing and called him a ‘great patriot’. He then went on to hold up Bari Weiss and Matt f’n Taibbi (emphasis added) as worthy of praise.

      Pretty much says it all for me.

  7. FlyoverBoy

    I love the little detail in the “independent state legislature” SCOTUSblog story, where someone approvingly cites a concurring opinion in the Bush v Gore coup decision as a precedent. Remember when the Court itself said, “This decision shall not be viewed as a precedent?” Ah, a real knee slapper there. Good times.

  8. upstater

    Trains magazine has a good article about Union Pacific and CSX attendance policies. It details v2.0 of new draconionism. Both are modifying policies, no doubt hoping to stem further attrition of operating employees:

    CSX and UP adopt kinder, gentler attendance policies for rail labor
    By Bill Stephens | December 8, 2022

    Railroads say changes are a response to concerns workers have raised

    “The new policy will also be non-disciplinary and non-punitive, and CSX will no longer subject employees to formal investigations, hearings, or disciplinary suspensions,” Tucker says. “Instead, employees who exceed certain point thresholds will receive timely notifications and encouragement to correct their attendance records. Leadership will also be empowered to exercise discretion in the handling of those with special needs and consider alternative approaches in appropriate circumstances.”

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      Short of explicit, detailed inclusion in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, it’s subject to managerial whim at best, and is bulls#×< PR at worst.

      1. Mark Gisleson

        Exactly. They disregard contracts whenever it suits them and their PR spin is all smoke and mirrors.

        The railroads, like the US govt, is недоговороспособны (not agreement-capable).

        (hat tip to A Son of the New American Revolution blog for the Russian vocabulary lesson)

    2. laughingsong

      I had recently read an article that I can’t readily find right now, where one of the Class 1 RR CEOs was telling shareholders and customers in a quarterly call that the company was planning more “efficiency cuts”. Many customers on the call thought that wasn’t smart, as that particular RR (can’t remember, sorry) had something like a 57% on-time record.

      While trying to find that article, I found another on that showed a graphic of their on-time records. It’s frankly horrible. I am a little surprised that more customers don’t support better working conditions and more hiring for the railroads as it would improve these rates (of course, they too may be trying to smash their own workers, maybe that’s why:

      Click through: “On-time performance is defined as the weekly percentage of carloads and intermodal trains that arrived at their destinations within 24 hours of the railroads’ original arrival estimate…..” Out of 7 units over the 7 Class 1 RRs listed, only 6 (out of 49) were 100%, and only 9 in the 90s. This is touted as a good rate!

  9. griffen

    As with most things, others mileage may vary. Interest rate offerings in fully insured CDs (Certificates of Deposit) would be a sleeping easy at night alternative. And in the strictest of suggestions, keeping it near at hand with shorter maturity terms is also a worthy suggestion.

    Credit unions are a worthwhile alternative to banks, if someone is strictly against such a thing. Elsewhere, I have considered moving into shorter term UST T-bills, the idea being that every 3 months I can choose whether to continue with that approach. In equity markets and most others such as this year, the idea of losing money is an affront. It is a highly uncertain outlook for 2023.

    None of these are approved action items! Best wishes. Edit, that didn’t go where I was intending so perhaps this comment goes into the vapor.

    1. Samuel Conner

      > Edit, that didn’t go where I was intending

      It’s a bit of additional effort but, before the edit timer expires, it is possible to copy a comment, delete it from its current unintended location, and then paste the copied text in a new reply at the original intended location.

      1. griffen

        I digress but was mostly expecting the comment above to be eventually or ultimately ripped out, as such topics are prone to cause a little strife for the patient moderators. I am not here to cause such strife, I swear it!

    2. Charger01

      Inflation sir, may eat away at any benefits that CDs may provide. If I may, muni bonds may be a better shelter during these times. However, it isn’t as flexible as CDs or other instruments. I’m locked into the equity market for the next 20 years until retirement, so I feel your pain.

      1. Mikel

        There are one-year CDs out there now paying OVER 4.5
        Purchasing in a tax free Roth IRA, the CD gives more bang for the buck.

    3. Chas

      Today the US Treasury Direct approved my account and I bought a Series I savings bond paying 6.89 per cent interest. I can withdraw the money after a year. The downside of this account, as far as I know so far, is that it took three months for Treasury Direct to verify my signature. There’s a $10,000 per year limit on purchases. They will offer a new interest rate in April.

      1. juno mas

        You can withdraw the bond with a 3 month penalty, after one year. You can sell the bond at 5 years with no penalty. It matures at 20 years with no loss of principal. (The “I” stands for inflation and the bond interest rate is tied to the CPI). I have several.

        TreasuryDirect is my new banking partner. Current 4-week T-Bills are returning 4% (soon to go higher). A credit card can suffice for any outlay over a month.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Military sources: Ukraine missiles used US guidance”

    Easy to believe this. You just had the CEO of Raytheon go on TV and tell the world-

    ‘the US provides real-time intel on the battlefield in Ukraine. “We see a Russian tank and that information gets fed to the Ukrainians…that’s something the Russians never contemplated.”

    The US is now in a direct confrontation with Russia.’ (39 sec video)

    The blowback from this is going to be epic.

        1. Randall Flagg

          Except Russian soldiers/men… to listen to the latest claims of war crimes reported on NPR and the like.
          What a world we are living in at the moment.

  11. GramSci

    Re: ChatGPT and rot13

    A real hoot, how the apotheosis of military intelligence is a perfect parrot.  Each time the Instructor tells Pvt. Chatty he is wrong, Chatty says “Yes, sir, let me tell you why I was wrong.” And with zero introspection Chatty marches on, learning nothing along the way.

    1. Adam Eran

      I’m a little more sympathetic with Bernie here. Going against literally a centuries-long tradition of U.S. aggression is not a battle to be taken lightly. Politicians may promise to “fight,” but really are adept at avoiding conflict and picking their battles.

      Meanwhile, he’s sponsoring a bill to end U.S. support for the Saudis in Yemen–not nothing, but certainly not an end to Victoria Nuland’s shenanigans in Ukraine, or some significant diminishment of the MIC.

      It’s profoundly discouraging to be reminded that the U.S. is so belligerent, provocative, and the source of so much “mischief” (sorry, there’s really not a strong enough word to describe the evil).

  12. antidlc

    The other day there was a discussion on Mark Cuban’s Cost Plus Drugs website.

    Family member WITH INSURANCE using PBM: $69.00

    Cost Plus Drugs price: $28.20 plus tax and shipping

    Same drug. Same dosage. Same quantity.

  13. Wukchumni

    Antidote food for thought…

    Was @ Wal*Mart the other day and aside from a few spendy smaller bags of IAMS, there was no dry cat,food whatsoever in the 12 foot wide by 6 foot high shelves, with the wherewithal perhaps being raptured?

    Felt like I was in a time warp in a Moscow pet store, circa 1978.

    1. griffen

      It can always be worse and worsening, one does suppose. I have no pets so I am unable to convey about the current local circumstances here, South Carolina. But it reminds me of this fictional scene, Lloyd conversing with Harry circa 1994. Wise words from Lloyd Christmas!

      “Harry, we got no jobs, no food, our pets heads are falling off. We gotta get out of this town !”

    2. Mildred Montana

      Petitioner: Majeste, the people’s cats have no dry food.
      Marie Antoinette: Let them eat steak.

      1. Wukchumni

        You kid, I once witnessed the catiphate frog march off a mouse on the periphery of the patio who had an orange jumpsuit on, until a cooler head prevailed… all for the want of a couple cans of Fancy Feast and to perhaps convey a message to yours truly?

        1. truly

          Here in the midwest we have a big box store called Menards. Mostly building supplies but also two rows of pet supplies, bird food, bird feeders.
          It is increasingly happening that the shelves are bare. Not ALL bare, but huge sections where there might have been a few ton of bagged dog food there is none. Certain brands do better than others.
          Now the past two weeks- no pine wood shavings. The type used in a horse box stall or a hamster pen. None at all.

  14. Lexx

    ‘Antidote du jour’

    Referred to in our house as a ‘Mousser Kitty’. Our first pet came from a variety store in Washington state that no longer exists, a male kitten we named ‘Mousse’ for his chocolate markings. There was some Siamese somewhere in his ancestry. He would mature into a large (neutered) male, so the name was apt.

    He lived to be around two, when we had him euthanized. He repeatedly developed urinary tract infections that to pay for took everything we had in our checking account, usually about $100. It wasn’t his fault; it was ours. Surgically shortening his urethra would have been another $500 we didn’t have. This was before credit cards.

    He’s the reason we’ll go to almost any length to save one of our pets, whatever the cost, with the best veterinary care available. Every animal willing to live with us since has benefited from the scorch marks killing Mousse left on our hearts. It’s been 45 years and we still haven’t broken our promise to his memory – never again.

  15. Wukchumni

    Found out the music died in midtown Manhattan yesterday, 42 years ago…

    I’d started working for a numismatist when I was 15 and that meant going to coin shows in major cities all over the USA, chasing down aged round discs and he dealt exclusively in foreign coins-which greatly broadened my outlook on arbitrage possibilities when the world was so unconnected and those with a good memory for instant information retrieval were rewarded over lesser minds who weren’t up to the task, information was king.

    I think this was the 3rd year in a row we went to the big NY international coin show-which attracted a who’s who of talented numismatists from all over the globe, lotsa buying and selling went on in a manic 4 days on the bourse floor.

    We flew in on the red-eye from LAX to JFK and my boss was go-go-go after we landed and off we went to a coin dealer with brick and mortar location in the city, and it had security doors and he went into the building to do business and I waited in the lobby and a security guard asked if I wanted to read the paper, and I said yeah, so he hands over the NYT and the top half is all the usual pablum of the day, ‘infation, blah blah, blah,’ and I turn over the fold and there it is on the bottom section, how could this not rate the top?

    Dumbfounded and a bit jetlagged, I made my way to the Dakota, where hundreds of mourners were attempting to sing Beatles songs whilst crying and the melancholy was at such a level that I couldn’t take anymore and had to flee the scene.

    1. laughingsong

      I worked at Tower Records in Mountain View, CA at the time. I hadn’t heard before I got to the store that morning. Employees entered through the back of the store. As I walked out onto the selling floor I looked out the glass front and saw the mob, with flowers, pictures, signs, candles. . . . . I will never forget it. How relatively quiet it was, even after we opened the doors.

  16. Wukchumni

    My Kevin (since ’07) simply doesn’t have the votes to be next Speaker of the House if he’s relying on the Pachyderms, so in attempting to sway Donkey Show members to vote him in, he’s taken to wearing atypical Ukrainian garb and addressing himself as ‘My Kievan’ when visiting their office, to let them know why the chicken crossed the aisle. (er, that is aside from Kev telling em’ war funds wouldn’t be so forthcoming when it looked like a red tide wipeout way back when, but I relent)

    1. Michael

      Trying to out do Pelosi? He’ll need an armpit swastika.
      Pair that with the Sinema move and DC is _____________! (again!!)

  17. CaliDan

    “How Protests and Crackdowns Can Exacerbate Climate Change” Foreign Policy

    Hmm. Maybe we should consider NOT protesting, you know, to protect the enviroment from counterprotest strategies, at least until responsible governments start caring more about the environment.*

    *Also we should continue to develop and deploy face-mapping crowd dispersal technologies or even consider turning off the internet, like they did in Kazakhstan that one time during protests erupting over rising energy costs. Wink, wink.

    1. Eclair

      Yeah, CaliDan, this piece, with a bit of editing, might appear in The Onion. If the peons just would stop their mass protests, then we, benevolent overlords, would not be forced to use eco-cidal methods of quelling the uppity serfs. Resistance is futile!

      OTOH, development of ‘green’ crowd control methods is a growth industry.

      1. caucus99percenter

        More sustainable tear gas, water cannon, and rubber bullets!

        I’m sure Macron, Scholz, Rutte & Co. are on the case.

  18. JTMcPhee

    On Ukraine, but more broadly on what is so forked about the Empire and what might be done to redirect it, is this peroration by Scott Ritter, who seems to me to be one of the very few wise men remaining (almost said “left,” a word I have taken to hating), simply titled “Wasteful:”

    Fifty-one minutes of well-schooled observations, tying up a lot of issues. It’s just amazing how the Great Game just goes on and on, from one idiocy and folly to another. But then the First Law of Human Stupidity is “ Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation..” Of course, there’s lots more to say on the subject:

  19. Expat2Uruguay

    This is a general media criticism and is not meant as a criticism of the host of this blog at all.

    Why the Global South Is Raising the Russian Flag The Realpolitik

    I just want to point out once again the term “Global South” is used to refer to Africa. This article is almost entirely about Africa, although it does mention Haiti once very briefly. Not another country in South America or Latin America is even mentioned. Not Mexico, not Brazil, not Argentina, not Chile, yada yada yada.

    The reason this bothers me so much is because I would like to find news that talks about South America in general and as part of a global paradigm, so when I see “Global South” I always go and hope that they will include that forgotten continent of South America, but no, once again it’s being used as shorthand for Africa.
    These headline writers want us to think that they’re talking about the global South when they ignore the whole continent of South America! It’s just plain dishonest, and I think they’re really just trying to be woke by using a term other than “African countries”, when that’s exactly what they’re reporting on. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone actually wrote about the global South and included how South American nations feel about Russia?

    By the way, I did some searching around on the subject and discovered that Global South really just means “third world” and “developing nations, usually in poverty”, and is meant to include South and Central America, Africa, parts of Oceania, but not Australia. The term Global South is also meant to refer to countries that are economically and culturally marginalized, or so I’m told, which is really ironic when the term Global South is used over and over again when it has nothing to do with South America.
    I saw this a lot during covid when John Campbell would talk about how bad it was going to be in the global South and it became obvious that he was referring to Africa almost exclusively. He almost never talked about the huge population of people in South America that were also going through covid waves and having mass death. Okay, rant over, for now

  20. Wukchumni

    He rode into town on Willie Brown’s horse
    Got a parking & traffic job up north
    His chances were swingin’ in the breeze
    All the recall election posters had pictures of he

    Tied what was left of his hopes to a meal Prix Fixe
    Walked into a restaurant, they called the French Laundry niche
    He ordered up sans mask, they called for his head
    He survived the likes of Elder, then he still led

    He used to have Kimberly Guilfoyle right by his side
    He’s the greasy stuff California Kid, I hope you’re quite prepared for his 2024 ride

    You can only imagine the electorate was eyeballing he
    Staring down from their screens you see
    Some women claimed he caused a lack of breath
    He was winning hearts being handsome & not near death
    Some found him tragically hip, as good as it gets

    He’s got Getty, right by his side
    He’s the greasy stuff California Kid, I hope you’re quite prepared for his 2024 ride

    He uncorked a bottle, the pro wino whined
    Why drink anything from the late teens?
    ’bout that time the paparazzi snuck in
    And there stood some asshole all uncovered in sin
    Do as I say-not as I do, he said ‘That’s no lie’
    Almost blew a hole in his chances just as big as the sky

    He’s got Pelosi, right by his side
    He’s the greasy stuff California Kid, I hope you’re quite prepared for his 2024 ride

    California Kid, by the Beat Farmers

  21. Jason Boxman

    Horrific news that the Chinese are going to destroy themselves with COVID. I guess the US elite must be creaming their shorts. Both populations will be effectively disabled now, so we’ll have parity again in that regard.

    I guess without a serious theory of transmission, it was only a matter of time. A million dead has been met with a shrug here; Will the Chinese shrug off some large number of deaths there, if they fare worse than we have? I guess we’ll see.

  22. Rich in OC

    I have been periodically following Chinese covid data, and also wondered what will become of the official data with the relaxation of the requirements. As of yesterday Xinhua’s covid data reporting looks the same (link in Chinese). New Covid positives by province, separated by imported (international traveler) cases and indigenous, and whether the positive cases are symptomatic or asymptomatic. Also reports on current number of severe cases being treated, and deaths when they occur. I think this data gathering and reporting will continue, but obviously the data itself will suffer. But it is interesting to observe the relative transparency compared with the U.S.

  23. Wukchumni

    What’s Going On With the Housing Market? WSJ
    I think everybody is hep to the proof of thudding in the pudding, er not only the downfall from the crest of the wave in perceived value, but also desirability, which translates to inventory on the market and how long they’ve languished.

    Only losers save money in the bank, as most everybody agrees real estate has done much better since the turn of the century, so that has to play in the psyche of a San Diegan who has seen $65k stripped from the value of their beloved 3/2 SFH with a side porch, and oh by the way he has $6,500 in savings, more than most friends he knows.

    Maybe that’s why the country seems to be crawling to a halt business wise, everybody’s house is worth less now across the country, no bright spots.

    The short term rental didn’t exist in housing bubble bust numero uno 15 years ago, and what role will it play as houses go down in value, might not be a bad time to call it quits and sell that garage mahal, mister or misses Hilton wannabe.

    My friends tell me AirBnB business has up and died here, and part of it is seasonal, and its weird how it went, Sequoia NP closed in March 2020 and opened again in June of that year to feverish demand as it was one of the few places Americans could go-with nary a foreign accent to be heard as you couldn’t get here from there, back then.

    This summer the foreigners kinda held sway with a couple of years of pent-up bucket list demand making up for lost time. There were a few times on the shuttle bus when I heard half a dozen tongues a wagging, a cacophony of accents!

    My buddy who runs sightseeing tours in the park reckons it was close to 50% or more of visitation by foreign visitors.

  24. juno mas

    re: Pink Snow

    These researchers should consult with limnologists. Nitrogen and Phosphorus are THE essential activating elements in algae growth; other than sunlight. These elements not only are found in eroding rock and windblown sediment, but in the feces of the “supervising Big Horn Sheep”.
    (As well as, humans scampering about the glaciers in peak trek season.)

    During my younger days climbing in the snowpack of the Idaho Sawtooth Range, pink snow was regarded as an indicator of prior wildlife or trekker

  25. Willow

    Merkel’s comments on Minsk were very odd. Did Merkel deliberately ‘own-goal’ to help Putin/Russia? Was she so pissed with UK/USA duplicity over Minsk she deliberately took a hit to her own reputation (German researchers developed the idea of ‘altruistic punishment’ btw)? Merkel is crafty enough to have known her comments would place Putin and Russia on the geopolitical high ground.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I think that she was trying to protect her own reputation no matter the consequences. She was showing here how she was always working against the Russians and part of the team but was forced economically to agree to gas pipelines. It drops Germany into the brown stuff politically but she is more concerned about number one. The Russians have already said that if there was ever a tribunal about the origins of this war, Merkle’s comments will be brought up as proof of western duplicity and lies.

      1. Willow

        I don’t think Merkel is that shallow & she was always the smartest in the room. Her comments potentially suggest a deeper dynamic of German anger against UK/USA.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I’m not a German or Merkel watcher, but she was a compromise party leader, not a leader in effect. Single women helped the cdu during the elections, but she isn’t a Sulla or a Caesaer. She was some schmoe who wasn’t as awful as a Yeltsin or a Scholz.

          1. Irrational

            She was very good at getting rid of her (mostly male) rivals though.
            I used to admire her, after the latest revelations I am not so sure. Moon of Alabama does try to put a positive spin on it.

  26. Karl

    RE: Biden releasing $36 Billion to aid pensions of union workers

    The headline is wrong. That money is going to one pension, the teamsters’ Central States Pension Fund. The money is coming from a provision in the 2021 “American Rescue Plan” that Biden signed. This is half the total supplemental funding to near-insolvent Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp.

    Good grief. $36 Billion for one pension plan? Key quote:

    Many union retirement plans have been under financial pressure because of underfunding and other issues.

    Result: moral hazard for every other union and company that under-funds their pension plans. A bailout with no reforms (to the best of my knowledge) to address the underlying causes. Politics as usual.

  27. Jeremy Grimm

    “Dollar debt in FX swaps …”
    I made one pass over this paper and thought about it on and off through out the day. I cannot claim to understand the ins and outs of what this paper is discussing in its highly coded language and allusions. I concluded the discussion goes far beyond mere jargon, I believe much of its content is hinting at something very worrying.

    The basic mechanisms of the foreign exchange [FX] market sound like a complicated way to do currency conversions for trade — combining the conversion mechanism with hedging and substantial borrowing lent on contingent, uncontrolled, or merely promised margin. From the first paragraph of the paper:
    “… payment obligations from these instruments are recorded off-balance sheet, in a blind spot …”
    The reference to “off-balance sheet transactions” smells like a mechanism for betting backed with chits.
    “… $80 trillion-plus in outstanding obligations to pay US dollars in FX swaps/forwards and currency swaps, mostly very short-term, exceeds the stocks of dollar Treasury bills, repo and commercial paper combined. The churn of deals approached $5 trillion per day in April 2022, two thirds of daily global FX turnover.”
    The numbers do not make sense to me as ‘trade’ numbers. Is there $7.5 trillion per day in global FX turnover and if so, how much of that represents transactions directly related to trade? How much represents currency hedging? And how much represents speculation and gambling? Is the $5 trillion per day “churn” — trade, hedging, or speculation?
    Is there really $76 trillion in “outstanding dollar positions”? How much of that represents transactions directly related to trade?
    “FX swap markets are vulnerable to funding squeezes.”
    All it takes to tip the multi-trillion dollar FX mechanism is a “funding squeeze”? What is a “funding squeeze” exactly?
    “… policies to restore the flow of dollars would still be set in a fog.”
    A “fog”? This whole paper left me in a fog.
    The FX market smells like a big casino where Big Banks and Big Finance play for high stakes and risk the world economy with their shenanigans.

    Understanding MMT sometimes proves difficult for me but add in the Foreign Exchange trade and it adds another level of complexity to understanding a theory for the value of money.

  28. Jeremy Grimm

    “Pandemic austerity plans …”
    There are plans for world-wide austerity — because of the Corona pandemic? — no mention of u.s. sanctions on Russia, China, and a list of other nations, or of Fed rate hikes affecting dollar debt. Its all the fault of the Corona virus, but also some trouble with “energy, inflation, debt and climate shocks to unaffordable living costs and political instability.” It is strange to be informed about pending austerity programs through a critique of those programs.

Comments are closed.